Tuesday, February 16, 2016

An Open Letter To PA House Legislators From A Commonwealth Criminal

I can only speak candidly through the filter of anonymity, for I am considered a criminal in this state even though I have hurt no one and there is no victim of my crime.

I use cannabis to treat and heal my body. I am not interested in getting high. I am not dealing it or giving it away. I do not get it from the drug cartels. I get it from a couple who grow the plants, process them into the essential oil and sell it to sick and suffering people. 

I've had a chronic pain condition for decades and have finally gotten sick of the pharmaceutical medications that were damaging my body and slowly killing me. I've also gotten sick of waiting for the PA House to correct the injustice of obstructing my right as a human being to use a God-given plant. 

The cannabis product that I use is called “full extract cannabis oil” or FECO, which is the essential oil of the cannabis plant. In addition to other active compounds, it contains THC and can make you high. The high is a side effect to be managed, just like the side effects of my pharmaceutical meds needed to be managed, including the high that THEY induced. 

I manage the high by bypassing the first-pass metabolism by the liver. I do that by administering the FECO rectally in suppositories. Simply put, the active compounds are absorbed by a major blood vessel just inside the rectum and delivered directly into the blood stream and into your system. This type of administration allows for the THC and other compounds to be available for their benefits without causing intoxication. 

Granted, that was an elementary explanation of how it works, but if you've never heard of that before, I wouldn't be surprised. This is a broad topic and there is still much to be learned. But we do know that cannabis has a wide range of therapeutic utility and there is no achievable toxic dose. No one has ever died from an overdose of cannabis. That cannot be said of any of the pharmaceutical meds that I was on. There is also no research to support the use of narcotics as an effective long term chronic pain management therapy, as was the plan my pain specialist had me on. 

I say WAS ON, because I've been able to use FECO to detox off of those substances. I needed to do so because the strong narcotics and other pain meds were damaging my body and could have killed me slowly or directly. I still take half of my blood pressure med, but will be dropping that also, since among other things, cannabis helps to regulate and balance your systems like blood pressure. Once I drop that med I will be pharma-free. That is not unusual. I've met dozens of people who have also dropped pharma meds by half or more while using cannabis. 

As far as the pain benefit I derive from FECO, it's hard to qualify. I have various types and intensities of pain but it basically comes down to constant and breakthrough. My constant pain is not quite as well controlled by FECO as it was with my pharma meds, but my breakthrough pain (that which is above and beyond the constant) is better. An unanticipated benefit is that my joint pain (unrelated to my chronic pain condition) which had been getting worse over the last few years has been reduced by over 90%. 

I may yet experience additional pain relief and other benefits while I try to achieve the most from cannabis treatment. Not unlike the trials of various pharmaceuticals that I had to endure to find the best combination of medication type and dosage, much of cannabis therapy is trial and error to determine optimal dosage and administration method. At least it's that way for me, living in a state where I cannot work with my physicians on this. Although my primary care doc is fully supportive of what I'm doing, we cannot openly manage my care properly and with the support of his staff and the medical community at large because of the law. 

After trying to explain the importance of establishing a good medical cannabis program to my Representative, I found that he is still clueless. He still believes this is all about getting access to cannabis to get high and that there are no medical benefits. When I finally said to him that suffering people can become desperate, and if PA does not pass a medical cannabis law or passes a poor law, patients will do what they have to do to take care of themselves and their loved ones in spite of the law. His curt response still feels like a dagger through my heart. He said, “We know”...

Allow me to break that down. You, the PA Legislature, are comfortable knowing that your inaction is forcing sick and suffering adults and children to put themselves and family at risk of arrest, incarceration and worse, to get their medication from the black market and use it without proper medical oversight because someone might get high, or it is not FDA approved (like the drugs that were killing me), or some other pitiful and inhumane excuse! If that is your idea of supporting family values, then I'm seriously missing something.

Do you honestly believe that we are spending countless hours, money and energy we don't have to beg for access to a plant so that we can get ourselves or our loved ones high? I had access to pill bottles full of morphine and oxy.


If you haven't done the research to understand this issue, then do so. If you choose to be ignorant, shame on you – stay ignorant and don't use it. But your ignorance and stalling is costing lives. Hold your nose if you have to, pass the bill and allow us to get on with our lives.

~ Commonwealth Criminal